New Vail projects set new standards for luxury
VAIL, Colorado – A ski condo used to be a little place to catch a little sleep between days on the slopes and nights in the bars. No more.These days, the condominiums coming to market are the equal of any high-end condominiums just about anywhere.The latest units on the market are the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Vail. The new building, just west of the Marriott near Lionshead, is a combination of 45 fractional-ownership units and 71 whole-ownership condos. A recent tour to show off the whole-ownership portion of the building revealed the current attitude toward ski-town condos.People who buy at the Ritz – for anywhere between $2.2 million and $9.1 million – get a host of amenities for their very large investment, from soft-closing kitchen drawers to workout equipment that will remember a member’s routine to a virtually silent furnace tucked away in a sound-deadened closet.The Ritz isn’t the first, or only high-end property in Vail, of course. On Meadow Drive, Solaris is just about finished, including 79 luxury condos on property where the old Vail Crossroads building stood. The old units at Crossroads were typical 1970s-era ski condos – fairly small, and built inexpensively. Solaris developer Peter Knobel said he knew early on that he was going to replace Crossroads with something bigger and better. “We wanted to build ‘the best of the West and everywhere else,'” Knobel said. “It doesn’t cost that much more to make it special.”
Diana Mathias, a broker with Slifer Smith & Frampton in Vail, remembers that the trend away from basic ski condos started in the early 1990s with renovations to buildings at the top of Bridge Street.But the trend really started to take hold with the “Vail Renaissance” of the early part of this decade.”Vail got to the point where people were saying the accomodations weren’t keeping up with the experience on the ski hill,” said Tye Stockton, of Ascent Sotheby’s International Realty, the listing broker for the Ritz residences. “Now the accomodations are on par with our skiing.”The people finishing Vail’s new projects are proud of their work. But Knobel said he appreciates the work done by the people who started Vail.”The people who pioneered this took a huge risk,” Knobel said. “Success was uncertain then. But now we know.”
While the current level of fit, finish and amenities in new luxury projects in Vail is the equal of just about anything, it’s there for a reason.Mathias said a handful of people live year ’round in their condos at the Arrabelle at Vail Square. Those people need the kind of amenities they have at their homes in bigger cities. “Technology has changed so much,” Mathias said. “It’s amazing how people are living today, and how that changes what people expect.”Someone being able to work at home from Vail as effectively as from New York or Chicago leads people to spend more time in town, she said. And that has some benefits for those people.”If you’re waiting for a call, maybe you can go ski for a couple of hours,” she said. “You can’t do that just anywhere.”Knobel said knowing that people expected the equivalent of their full-time homes led his team to think about Solaris not as condos, but as single-family homes, but with the service and amenities found in top-tier clubs and hotels.”If you have the money, you want the best service,” Knobel said.So what’s the next step beyond what’s available now?”I think the next standard is only by location,” Knobel said. “If someone tore down the Christiania, the bar would be raised not by the quality standard of the finishes and services, but by location. We’re already as high as you can get.”Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.